For its 125th anniversary in 2015, resolve to know Rock Creek Park—literally from A to Z.
Just as you notice something new every time you visit our precious wilderness in the city, you can visit this space week by week and go through the alphabet learning more about the Park, its resources and its history.
From A is for Animals to Z is for Zoo, there is so much to discover:
The number of species of Animals in the Park recently included 29 kinds of mammals—until 2004, when the first confirmed sighting of coyotes brought the total to 30.
The busts of an American Indian chief on the Q Street Bridge were taken from a life mask of Kicking Bear, a Lakota Sioux who fought alongside his cousin, Crazy Horse.
Bruce Springsteen sold out Carter Barron Amphitheatre for four nights in 1975.
The Park's Ecology is threatened by the overpopulation of deer, as the animals damage existing plants, take food and cover away from other animals, and eat tree seedlings so that the forest can't regenerate.
Rock Creek is blessed with rapids because the Park straddles the Fall Line separating the Piedmont to the west from the Coastal Plain to the east. This Geology provides a home to a diversity of plants—some that prefer the mountains and others that thrive toward the coast.
The jagged outcroppings of rock we see in the hillsides are evidence of the Rock Creek Shear Zone, a system of ancient faults up the spine of the Park.
Secret Service agents received expedited Horse training in Rock Creek Park so they could keep up with newly elected Ronald Reagan when he went riding at his ranch and Camp David.
Of the many Mills that dotted the banks of Rock Creek in the 19th century, only Peirce Mill remains today. Before Isaac and Abner Peirce built it in the 1820s, they constructed a "rough draft"—a nearly identical mill about half a mile up the creek. The Argyle (or Blagden's) Mill was reduced to ruins by the same storm that caused the Johnstown Flood in 1889.
Many Quotations sing the praises of the Park. Joshua Weiner's poem Rock Creek (II) includes these lines:
Oak, tulip poplar, beech & laurel
holly, dogwood on the hills,
sycamore, red maple, wet,
tolerant, all along the floodplain
through steep ravines, gentle
sloping hills, grassy meadows
and the stretch of rapids
south of Military Road,
the Secession War captured in a street sign
now as frenzied commuter route
where 20,000 years ago
nomads sharpened fluted points
for caribou, elk, moose,
black bear, mastodon & mammoth
The main Road along Rock Creek is named after Lansing Beach, who lacked Congressional funding when construction of Beach Drive began—so he relied on prison chain gangs.
Forests cover 81 percent of Rock Creek Park—and, among all the Trees, a few large oaks may be close to 300 years old.
Prominent among the many U.S. Presidents who have enjoyed the Park was Theodore Roosevelt, who drew a picture of a fawn near Rock Creek for his son Archie...and is credited with naming Boulder Bridge when he placed a classified ad for a ring lost near the span.
Our blog pages will also be collected into a book, Rock Creek Park A to Z, which you will be able to purchase. Rock Creek Park was set apart in 1890 "for the benefit and enjoyment of the people of the United States" to ensure "the preservation...of all timber, animals, or curiosities...in their natural condition, as nearly as possible.
125 years later, as we invite you to come back week after week for new entries in our Rock Creek Park A to Z, we hope you will find new ways to enjoy the Park, appreciate its natural wonders and take part in the movement to preserve them.
Tags: Rock Creek Park A to Z